Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport has announced its frustration with TSA screening processes after a breakdown last week resulted in significant baggage systems delays. The airport joins a queue of other airports in the US, who are growing increasingly concerned with TSA systems.
The delays last week were caused by a technical system breakdown that resulted in delays for 16 airlines, and more than 3,000 checked-in bags being left behind.
Airport staff used their initiative to forward around 1,000 bags to Las Vegas airport for screening, as luggage began piling up.
An increasing number of airports around the world are moving to automated baggage handling systems and employing outside agency help for screening. Common bag drop solutions are growing in popularity with the option for multiple airline bag drop kiosks and off-site passenger check-in.
Alaska Airlines, and its baggage handling contractor, Menzies Aviation, has been fined what could amount to $62,000 for breaches of industry regulations for the handling of passenger baggage.
Inspectors have reported 16 violations, 12 of which they deem as serious, including failure to provide adequate safeguards for baggage handling personnel at Sea-Tac International Airport.
Other violations include failure to inspect baggage trailers and trucks, which often report issues such as failed brake lights and inadequately service steering systems.
As airports move into automation for baggage handling, many of the issues and violations could be avoided, particularly as Menzies Aviation have attempted to let employees take the blame with allegations of misconduct.
An appeal is expected to be raised against the fines. The ongoing proceedings, and the outcome will not affect passengers, the company insists.
Narita International Airport has renewed and expanded a contract with Rockwell Collins for the deployment of ARINC Common Use and Self-Service Passenger Processing systems in Terminals 2 and 3.
Passengers will be able to check-in faster, which will be of enormous benefit to the airport, being Japan’s second busiest with more than 35 million passengers passing through every year.
Rockwell Collins’ ARINC airport systems offer a wide range of solutions for airports of all sizes, including offsite baggage check-in options with ARINC ExpressDrop.
Many passengers dread the security screening process in airports. Although most of us are not carrying prohibited items, that feeling of being screened give us a sense of guilt anyway.
Baggage handling systems in airports have inevitably improved in the past five years and screening using the latest technology has undoubtedly speeded up the entire check-in process. Systems such as ExpressDrop have given passengers greater control of their journey times using self-service kiosks and bag drop desks to have baggage weighed, measured and tagged before leaving the terminal to continue through the screening process.
Some of the world’s top security experts have said that the greatest threats to airport security can come from inside the terminal, with personnel having greater access to vulnerable areas. It is thought that the Metrojet incident was likely caused by the placement of a bomb by a baggage handler, which begs the question are these self-service, automated systems going to improve security by effectively reducing the amount of handling baggage goes through by ‘real’ hands?
Undoubtedly, airport security screening must step up to look as closely at the airport staff as it does at the passengers, particularly now, as the entire world feels vulnerable to attack.
Last week the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) offered a rare behind-the-scenes look at the journey luggage takes through the Philadelphia International Airport baggage handling system.
As one of the first airports to implement automated explosive-detection in 2003, following government mandate introduction of explosive-detection screening after the terrorist attacks of 9/11.
TSA spokesman, Michael McCarthy said, “Some people think the TSA opens and physically screens every single bag. That may have been the case immediately following 9/11, but not today.”
The automation of explosive-detection at Philadelphia International baggage handling system can mean that 1,000 bags every hour are screened – via an in-line system of conveyor belts and detection machinery.
The luggage embarks on a 15-minute journey through the airport baggage handling system and travels almost a quarter of a mile, almost never being handled by human hands. If cleared, via sophisticated CT scanning equipment, the luggage makes its way to the aircraft. If an alarm is activated, or if TSA wants a closer look, the bag is removed, opened and physically searched by a TSA officer at an inspection station.
Electronic screening and an automated baggage handling system can improve operational productivity at airports by streamlining a previously complicated, manual system. Not only does the system improve efficiency, but can also reduce physical injuries from lifting heavy baggage and reduce the possibility of damage to passenger baggage or instances of theft.
Rumours are circulating that the aviation arm of John Menzies, the newspaper and magazine distributor, could take over from baggage handlers Swissport at Gatwick Airport if a repeat of last months’ baggage fiasco occurs.
The airport was forced to apologise to hundreds of passengers who were told to go home empty-handed because of what was later described as a ‘failure to meet service levels’ by Swissport.
Following the debacle, Monarch Airlines cancelled two Swissport contracts at Gatwick and Manchester, while International Consolidated Airlines said it will ‘look at other opportunities’ should the delays continue.
John Menzies provides cargo and passenger ground-handling services, including ticketing, check-in, baggage reclamation and passenger lounge facilities, which makes up two-thirds of its current aviation business revenue. There is no doubt that share prices would make a dramatic increase should they take over from Swissport as Gatwick and Manchester airports baggage handlers.
During the Dubai Airport Show this year, Beumer Group Company, Crisplant, will demonstrate their latest in-tote automated baggage handling system. The system uses a ‘one-bag-one-tote’ idea to effectively allow the baggage to be checked-in, screened and sorted, then ‘tipped’ at the point of baggage discharge.
The new system, CrisBag, is easily integrated into new and legacy systems and is designed to give high levels of operational efficiency.
Other baggage handling systems providers, such as ARINC, believe that automated baggage handling systems should bring enhanced operational productivity to the airport terminal and allow effective screening to maintain optimal security, while streamlining the entire baggage handling process to offer comprehensive, end-to-end efficiency across the entire check in procedure.
Passengers have high expectations today of their travel arrangements. No longer are we prepared for long delays, queues and no longer is it necessary. With common use check in desks, self service kiosks and updated automated baggage handling, passenger check in queuing is becoming a thing of the past in airports, large and small, across the globe.